Boy, are we all pissed off, and we’re getting angrier by the minute. Donald Trump’s acquittal by the Senate has divided America between one side, who believes that he’s guilty as hell and the deck in the Senate was stacked, and the other, who feels that the impeachment was a politically motivated witch hunt.
Over here, Britain’s official exit from the European Union last Friday has created a similar chasm, between those who think we’re on the verge of a golden age, and those who are fastening their seatbelts and getting ready for a very bumpy ride.
An Elle magazine poll last year found that three-quarters of women get angrier at the news at least once a day, and more than three-quarters who are Democrats are even angrier at current events than they were last year.
So while you are gnashing your teeth and hissing at the other side, I’d like to remind you of how groups far more polarized than you – groups of people, in fact, who wish to annihilate an entire country of the hated other - were able to come together in peace and harmony – after just 10 minutes during an Intention Experiment of mine two years ago.
The epicentre of this amazing event was a studio in southern England set up by Dr Salah Al-Rashed, the Deepak of the Middle East, with the technological capacity to create a two-way communication flow between a facilitator sitting in the studio and audiences in nine different locations anywhere in the world.
We’d arranged for cameras and monitors to be placed in hotels and conference rooms filled with Arabs in cities in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Abu Dhabi, Oman, Bahrain, Jordan and Tunisia.
The ninth camera and monitor was placed in the Gerard Bechar Center in Jerusalem, filled with an audience of Israeli Jews.
All nine rooms were displayed on my screen, and my feed was visible to all nine audiences so they could observe me running the experiment. The entire experiment and its aftermath were also beamed live to other participants from all over the world via my YouTube channel.
All of us came together to send intention to the Old City of Jerusalem because it has suffered increasing violence after new security measures were put in place.
I could call on people from any one of the nine audiences, at which point their screen would be shown to me and the other eight locations, with each group able to speak to me and to the people in the other eight windows.
‘You have no idea how revolutionary this is,’ one Saudi woman remarked to me before the experiment. ‘We have never seen Israelis. We’ve been taught to believe that they have horns coming out of their heads.’
But not after the Intention Experiment.
The shock of recognition
Both Arabs and Jews were crying and laughing as they recognized the common humanity in each other. A woman from Abu Dhabi said she had seen visions of Israelis dancing with Palestinians during the experiment.
A woman from Jerusalem described her visions of Israeli soldiers hugging Arabs, and another envisioned a wedding with an Arab man dancing with a Jewish woman.
‘I love you, I love you so much,’ said Fatima from Jeddah in Saudi Arabia to the Jews in Jerusalem, blowing them kisses. ‘Your God is my God.’
‘We love you, sister,’ called out people from the Israeli audience.
‘It’s so overwhelming, the possibility of being connected with you, our sisters in Amman and Damascus and in Iran and all over,’ said Lily, speaking for several Israeli women’s peace groups. ‘We are hundreds of thousands of women here, saying “Enough!” It’s a time of compassion. It’s a time of healing. Thank you, dearest sisters, we are one.’
And then there was the reaction of our thousands of participants on YouTube.
‘While I was waiting on YouTube and watching all the people in the chat box send messages of love, peace, healing, etc., I immediately could feel the energy,’ wrote one participant. ‘And to see where everyone was coming in from across the planet, that was overwhelming just in itself, and I was already crying before we even got to the live feed.’
‘I first started working in that region in Saudi Arabia in 1975, so to hear Arabs from SA send love to Jews in Israel just blew me away,’ wrote another.
‘When you get this opportunity to not only feel like a collective particle but to know on some level that you are one particle of trillions, it changes your perspective on yourself and others.’
“My entire perception of the people of the Middle East really changed,” wrote another. “We mostly only hear about the violence there, so it truly brought it home to see faces and hear voices of people who care deeply…. And this gave me so much hope, it brought it into reality, beyond just my own hopes and prayers. I felt a part of something much larger, much more powerful than myself.”
Transformation through participation
I remain hopeful, as always, about our capacity to decrease the number of dead and injured during our Peace Intention Experiments, but the target of our intention is no longer the point.
The point is not the action but its reaction – a ripple effect of peace in the hearts of the participants that could eventually extend out to the entire world.
The next time you feel angry toward a member of the other side, invite him or her to do an intention – or even to pray with you – and observe how your anger – and his – simply melts away.
I’m planning a big Intention Experiment this year with participants around the world to address polarization in America and elsewhere. Stay tuned and make sure to sign up when it is announced.
To solve a seemingly intractable political situation, the fastest and most effective way forward in a war zone may not be through the military, politics, diplomacy or even economic initiatives.
All you may need are people coming together as a group and praying as one.